Post-qualifying press conference – Germany GP 2005
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1m14.320s
2nd Jenson Button (BAR), 1m14.759s
3rd Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m14.904s.
Q: Well done Kimi, finally on pole position and no penalty so that’s where you’re going to start the race from too.
Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, it’s nice. I think we should have been up here also in the last two races but in the circumstances it was not possible. But the whole weekend the car has been working well, it wasn’t as good in qualifying as it had been in the morning but it was good enough and we got pole position.
Q: It was a beautiful-looking lap, with a nice oversteery moment coming out of the second last corner though.
KR: Yes. I had a little bit of oversteer for a few corners which is why I wasn’t too happy with the car but that’s normal. It didn’t slow me down actually; I gained some time in comparison to the morning so it didn’t matter really.
Q: Your thoughts on the race, the weather conditions, the potential strategies around you?
KR: It doesn’t matter what they are. We have a strong package and we should be able to fight for wins, so we see what happens.
Q: Interesting championship situation with Fernando sitting alongside you now. Some thoughts from you on the championship, and some thoughts on this race at this point of the season.
KR: It’s an important race. We have lost out on points in the last two races so we really need to try to gain some points this time and get back in the championship. But there are still many races to go so we just need to keep doing the best we can and hopefully we can catch up with them.
Q: Jenson, a great looking weekend for you so far. How do you feel about the car, in terms of competitiveness for the race?
Jenson Button: Yeah, it’s always very difficult to tell. In qualifying, I wouldn’t say my lap was the best. I think we had a bit too much front end on the car. I had a few moments, especially coming into the stadium but it’s nice to be on the front row. Our aim for the race is to be as close as, or hopefully closer than we were in Silverstone to Renault and McLaren.
Q: Do you feel you’ve made progress testing with the car in that period since Silverstone?
JB: Yeah, we’ve made progress but it’s not enough to challenge them, I don’t think. Maybe I should be a bit more upbeat but that’s the way it is. Hopefully we will be closer here which we’ll be very happy with and we can keep moving forward throughout the year and hopefully get a bit closer and maybe challenge towards the end, I don’t know.
Q: Is Hockenheim a circuit you like? You’ve been very quick here in the past and as you say, the car looked very energised on that lap. Can you just talk us through your thoughts on Hockenheim, on Germany and racing here?
JB: Well, it’s a circuit that I’ve enjoyed a lot, the shorter Hockenheim, but I’ve also had some good races on the long circuit. My first year here I finished fourth in the wet behind DC (David Coulthard) and it’s a great circuit, I always enjoy it here. I have never qualified inside the top 12, so it’s nice to be on the front row and it’s a lot easier starting from this position.
Q: Fernando, just wondering where your lap went. It didn’t appear, on the times, to be brilliantly quick in sector one, but on the TV it looked OK.
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, it looked OK, but I lost nearly three or four tenths in turn one, five tenths compared to this morning, so it was not really perfect in the first corner and also braking for turn two, but then after that I knew that I was down and at that stage I really needed to push the car to the limit in the last two sectors and I did, and I was lucky to be third. I think in normal circumstances we should be on the front row but actually I think it’s even better to start third on the clean side, so I’m extremely happy with the result.
Q: What was the problem going into turn one and turn two?
FA: I don’t know. I think, like these guys, we all felt a little bit of oversteer in our qualifying lap, it was a little bit more windy as well, so my lap was probably a little bit windy in turn one. It’s a high speed corner so if you lose the confidence there you also lose under braking in turn two so it was a little bit of everything going on in these first two corners.
Q: Where do you feel you are in terms of race speed and competitive racing against the others?
FA: We are always much better in race pace than in qualifying. The qualifying lap is our worst point at the moment, so if we are in the top three, hopefully tomorrow we can be second at the start if everything goes well, so we are in a good position. I think strategy-wise we are really in good shape because we have prepared for the race in a perfect way so I’m very confident that tomorrow we can fight for victory.
Q: Kimi, just returning to you: a dramatic final corner for your team mate Juan Pablo Montoya. Your thoughts on that and also turn one has not been particularly kind to you here at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
KR: Yeah, I don’t think I’ve finished any races here so far. I usually end up in the same tyre wall at turn one but hopefully this time it will go slightly better. Yeah, I was not happy with my qualifying lap at all. The car was not easy compared to this morning and I don’t really know what happened to Montoya. He just lost the rear end. I also had a moment there, so unlucky for him but it happens sometimes.
Q: Kimi, even though you may not have finished here, you have been quickest throughout this weekend, the team has, you have, how high is your confidence?
KR: It is good, a good position to be in for the start but it doesn’t change the confidence at all. The main thing is the race tomorrow, it is going to be long and hard, so we just need to make sure we do the best job we can and if we get everything going well then we should be in a position to win the race, so just wait and see.
Q: You have a margin of over four-tenths on Jenson. Could it have been more, are you surprised how big it is?
KR: Actually, I thought the gap could have been bigger but the car was not exactly right in the qualifying. I had a bit of oversteer in many corners so it wasn’t the easiest one but the lap time was still pretty good so I am happy the way things are going.
Q: You were asked about your feelings on what happened to your team-mate, presumably you would have liked him to be beside you as long as he was behind you beside you?
KR: I think for the team it would have been very good, we have been very strong as a team here so for the team championship it would have helped but unfortunately whatever happened to him happened and he has some work to do tomorrow.
Q: Jenson, hotter conditions I think, the temperature went up and down quite a lot, did that favour you?
JB: I don’t know, for me the car had a lot of oversteer in it, it wasn’t a perfect lap. I think it was the same for all of us, we didn’t expect to have so much oversteer in the cars. I had quite a big moment coming into the stadium, which probably lost me quite a bit of time and a few other places on the circuit, so considering that it is not too bad a lap time.
Q: It unfortunately puts you on the dirty side of the track, have you suffered in the past from that?
JB: From the dirty side? I don’t think it is just the dirty side, somehow. These two seem to be quite a bit better at the start, but anyway it is a good position for us and our main aim for tomorrow is to be a bit closer to the Renaults and McLarens, because we finished quite a bit behind them at Silverstone. And if we are closer then, that is a positive change for us and a move forward, so that is our aim. I have to say, the team has done a great job this weekend and Honda with the engine and it is great to be back on the front row again.
Q: But you are worried about Renault’s starts really?
JB: Yeah, the McLarens and Renaults seem to be very good off the line so it is going to be interesting to see where we end up in turn one, but we will see.
Q: Fernando, actually, at the first sector you were 14th fastest behind the 13 other cars. You had to pull out all the stops if possible. What were your feelings then?
FA: I knew from the information on the steering wheel that I was really slow after two corners so I really had to work hard in the last two sectors to make a good position. I was lucky, the car performed well after these two corners and we managed to be in the top three. But for sure we lost too much in the first two corners, the car was a little bit oversteering, it was quite windy and I think there was also some grass on the track, so I think it was not perfect conditions for my lap in the first two corners.
Q: And the margin of 0.4 seconds, 0.3 of that was in the first sector.
FA: Yeah, we know we are competitive, I think the McLarens have been strong all weekend, quicker than anybody, but we know we are quick as well. We tried to show it in qualifying, it was not possible, but I think the race will be much closer than it has been all weekend.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agencia EFE) Fernando, can you describe the day as a whole, do you feel very satisfied? And secondly, Montoya starting from the back of the grid, is that good news for you?
FA: The day has been good, we tested some new solutions in the car that we thought of at night and it really worked well. Both drivers were happy with the car so I am confident for tomorrow. Normally the race pace is our strongest point so hopefully we can do a good race tomorrow. And for Montoya, I think it is a help for all of us, for sure. The top six or seven drivers in qualifying will now have a little bit of an easier race than if Juan Pablo was in a normal position, so hopefully we can finish in front of him and for the constructors championship it is also good because we are fighting with McLaren very closely, and if they lose an opportunity to be first and second in qualifying it is good for us.
Q: (Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Deutschland) Kimi, you are in a position in the championship where you need help from others to catch Fernando. How angry are you about the mistake of Montoya in the last corner?
KR: I am not angry. I think he is angry with himself. Of course, it would have been good for the team to have both cars in the front but that was not possible and at the same time as it would have been good for the team it would have helped me, but it is just how things go sometimes.
Q: (Karoly Mehes – Dunantuli Naplo) Fernando, is your approach to the race tomorrow to bring the car home or to fight for the victory?
FA: I think at the moment we fight for victories. In some places we will not be able to fight for victory, maybe tomorrow we should think at the start to overtake Jenson. We have a good start normally, we are on the clean side so hopefully we can be fighting with Kimi from the beginning of the race and then, for sure, if we can do it we will try tomorrow to do it, and if not obviously second place is the best one, if not third is the best one, and I think for the rest of the season it will be the same approach as always.